Retribution - by Pauline
Nelson stood letting his gaze wander around the control room. Why wasn't Crane here? Seaview was due to sail in four hours. He moved to join Morton who was busy in the observation nose. "Where’s Captain Crane?" Nelson asked.
"He hasn't come aboard yet, Sir," Morton informed him.
"That's not like Lee," Nelson commented thoughtfully, remembering the last time Lee had been late in returning from leave.
"Shall I call his apartment?" Morton offered. He was obviously as concerned as Nelson.
"Yes, do that, Chip," Nelson answered absently. "I'll be in my cabin."
"Aye, Sir," Morton turned, headed for the radio shack.
Morton made his way along the corridor to report to the Admiral. An hour had passed since he'd spoken to Nelson, and there was still no sign of Lee. Neither had he had any luck with trying to call Lee at home. Chip was sure that Lee would never be this late unless something serious had happened. Reaching Nelson's cabin, he paused out-side and knocked before entering.
Nelson looked up from his desk as Morton stepped through the door. Chip wished that he had better news for him. "There is still no word from Lee, Admiral," Morton reported.
"Any luck with his apartment?" Nelson asked.
Morton shook his head. "No, Admiral, there was reply to my call." For a moment Nelson said nothing. Chip could imagine what was going through the Admiral's mind. Lee would have left at message at the institute if anything was wrong; Chip had checked, there had been no message. "Admiral, I would like permission to go over there, check the apartment?" Morton requested.
Nelson looked at him and nodded. "Very well, Chip," he agreed. "Make it quick. Whether Lee is there or not, come straight back. If Lee isn't here, we'll sail without him."
"Yes, Sir." Morton acknowledged.
Morton pulled up outside Lee's apartment. Seeing Lee's red sports car parked out front, he quickly entered the building. Coming to Lee's apartment he started to knock, but the door swung open at his touch. Cautiously he stepped inside, calling to Lee, but there was no reply. With growing apprehension he moved through the apartment, systematically checking every room until he came to the bedroom. He need look no further. A trail of blood led his eyes to the bed, the torn jacket discarded on the floor beside it, and the body of Lee Crane lying on the bed half covered by a sheet. Chip paused in the doorway, taking a long slow breath before moving to the bed to confirm what he already suspected.
Dropping to his knees beside the bed, he gently pulled back the sheet to look at the face of his close friend, and commanding officer. "Oh, god no...no, Lee!" Grief stricken Chip closed his eyes, shutting out the sight before him. It was obvious from the torn shirt and blood soaked sheet that Lee had taken a beating before being left to die. Seaview would not sail now. How would Chip ever break the news to Nelson?
The news spread quickly amongst Seaview's crew. Kowalski, Paterson and Riley sat around the table in their quarters, having been stood down from watch until further notice.
"Chief didn't say," Kowalski answered with a shrug. He didn't know any more than the rest of them. Just that Crane was dead, and would be buried at sea. That was one cruise none of them was looking forward to.
"The skipper dead, I still can't believe it,"
"It's true enough." Kowalski told him. He was having a hard time believing it himself. Seaview wouldn't be the same without Crane in command. "You okay, Riley?" Kowalski asked. So far the kid hadn't said anything since the Chief had told them.
"Yeah. I wonder how the Admiral is taking it."
"Pretty bad I should think, and Mr Morton. Him and the skipper were close," Kowalski suggested.
Kowalski shrugged again. Morton had always maintained that he didn't want command. He would rather stay exec. However, under the circumstances that could change.
Sharkey paced aimlessly around the control room. There was little for him to do until Seaview
put to sea again. Along with the rest of
the crew, that was a day he was not looking forward to. A burial at sea was bad enough, but this was
Crane, Seaview's Captain. Man I would
like to get my hands on whoever was responsible, Sharkey thought with growing
anger. What made it worse was that this
had happened right here in
Sharkey wondered over to where O'Brien hovered near the radio shack, waiting for orders. The grim expression on his face mirrored the feeling of gloom that had descended over the boat as she lay in her dock at the Nelson Institute, waiting to leave on her Captain's final voyage.
Seaview floated upon a calm sea. The waters of the Pacific sparkled in the last rays of the setting sun. On deck a burial detail stood to attention as Admiral Nelson read the service.
"Unto almighty god we commend the soul of our dearly departed brother and friend, Captain Lee Crane, and we therefore commit his body to the deep,
Looking to the resurrection on the last day,
And to the life of the world to come,
And to his second coming in gracious majesty to judge the world,
The sea shall give up her dead, and the corruptible bodies of those who sleep in her shall be changed, and made light unto his glorious body,
According to the might workings whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself."
Nelson closed the prayer book and led the men in a salute as the body slid from beneath the flag and sank below the water.
"Secure the detail," Morton ordered before quickly disappearing through the sail hatch, headed for sickbay.
Nodding briefly to the honour guard outside, Morton entered sickbay and closed the door firmly behind him. Leaning back against it he relaxed, letting the strain of the last few hours drain away. "Thank goodness that's over," he commented to Grey. "Any news from Jamieson?" he asked.
Morton told himself that there had been no word because
there was nothing to report. He wondered
how long it would be before Jamieson's absence would have one of the crew
putting two and two together, and figuring out what was going on. Until Lee regained consciousness, and could
tell them what had happened. Nelson
wanted everyone to think that Lee was dead.
A discrete guard had been posted outside Lee room at the medical centre,
although Morton could not believe that any-one at the institute was
involved. He'd seen the look on the
crews' faces. The control room had been
quiet on the outward trip, each man working in silence, with his own
thoughts. Morton decided that he would
speak to Nelson about talking to the crew when they got back to base. Right now his place should be in the control
room. He knew from the movement beneath
his feet that Seaview was underway, on her way back to
Morton wasted no time in getting to the medical centre as soon as Seaview docked. "How's he doing, Doc?" Chip asked as the crossed the room to stand beside the bed where Lee lay motionless. He had been severely beaten before being left for dead. Most of Lee's injuries where hidden by the bedclothes, but the intubation tube to assist his breathing, monitor, and I.V in his arm where indications of how serious his condition was.
"He's holding on," Jamieson replied quietly.
Chip perched carefully on the edge of the bed. "Lee, can you hear me? You're going to be all right," he encouraged, not knowing whether Lee understood, or even knew that he was there. Chip turned to Jamieson for re-assurance. There hadn't been any change in Lee's condition from when he'd seen him earlier.
Jamieson returned the notes he'd been writing to the file before coming to stand beside Morton. "He'll make it, Chip," he told him, putting a comforting hand on his shoulder.
Chip wished that he could believe that. As he watched Lee, his thoughts returned to that moment in the apartment when, gritting his teeth against the anger and grief, he'd moved to cover Lee with the sheet. The relief he'd felt when Lee had moved his head and whispered his name. In his haste to call for help, he had knocked the phone from the bedside table and it had taken him precious seconds to retrieve it.
"Chip?" Jamieson broke into his thoughts.
Chip reluctantly pulled his gaze from Lee to look up at Jamieson.
"Don't expect things to happen very quickly. It could be days, or even weeks," the doctor told him. "Why don't you go and grab some coffee. You look like you need it," he smiled genially.
"I want to be here when he comes round," Chip insisted, his eyes straying back to Lee. At least he didn't have to worry about standing watch. Seaview was safely berthed, with a skeleton crew aboard to look after her.
"I know, but like I said, that's not likely to happen yet. I promise I'll send some-one to find you if it does." Jamieson assured him.
Still Chip was reluctant to leave. He had come so close to losing Lee. "Sorry Doc, I'm staying," If the worst should happen, Chip didn't want Lee to die alone.
Jamieson shook his head at him. "There is nothing you can do. Go home and get some rest," he advised.
"I couldn't sleep. I'll be okay." Chip told him obstinately.
"All right, but making yourself ill won't help Lee," Jamieson said patiently. "I have to report to the Admiral. I'll be back in a little while."
Chip nodded, his eyes never straying from Lee.
Nelson sat at his office desk, staring at the telephone, willing it to ring. If only Lee would come round and tell them what had happened. His enquiries to ONI and Washington had all met with an apparent wall of silence. However something told him that it was somehow connected to Lee's past. Hopefully their charade would buy them some time. If he didn't want to arouse suspicion, he would have to make a statement to the press. That would probably get the police involved as well, something he hoped to avoid. He would also have to appear to be going through the motions of finding a new captain for Seaview. Nelson turned to the door as a knock signalled the arrival of Katie, a welcome distraction.
"Is there any news, Admiral?" she asked.
"No, sorry Katie- nothing - But you know Lee, he'll be all right," Nelson tried to sound re-assuring, Despite his own fears.
Katie nodded and smiled. "Is there anything you want me to do?"
"No. Why don't you go home? There's not likely to be much happening around here today." Nelson said gently. He could see that she had been crying.
"Thank you, Sir," Katie smiled and turned to leave.
"I'll see you tomorrow." Nelson's attention was taken by the telephone ringing, and he reached for it, dreading what he was about to hear.
Morton carried his tray of coffee and sandwiches to a table in the corner of the cafeteria where he hoped he would not be disturbed. Despite Jamieson's assurances, Chip knew that Lee's condition was till critical. Sipping his coffee, he contemplated the plate of sandwiches in front of him. He wasn't really hungry; the famous Morton appetite had deserted him. His mind kept flashing back to the moment when he had found Lee; he'd thought he was dead.
"Hello, Commander. Mind if I join you?" A voice broke into his thoughts snapping him out of his reverie.
Chip looked up to see Lindsey Jamieson standing beside the table. "No. Please," Morton indicated the chair opposite.
"Been to see Lee?" she asked as she seated herself at the table.
Chip nodded. "Did your father send you to check up on me?" he asked, suddenly suspicious of this chance meeting.
"No. Why should he?"
"No. Sorry, I guess I'm a bit uptight right now," Chip apologised.
Lindsey smiled. "That's understandable. You must be worried." she sympathised.
That was an understatement. Even if Lee came through, there was the possibility of brain damage. He couldn't bear to see Lee end up in a nursing home, unable to do anything for himself. Lee was so very independent, he would rather die.
Lindsey reached across and squeezed Chip's hand. "He'll make it, Chip," she said reassuringly.
"Yeah, but will he still be Lee?" Maybe it would have been better if
I hadn't found him," Chip replied quietly.
"Chip! You mustn't talk like that. Lee has a good chance of coming through this okay. If he'd died, he wouldn't have had any chance," Lindsey reprimanded gently.
Chip sighed heavily. "I know, but it doesn't help. I can't help thinking what if..." he worried. "I don't think I could handle losing Lee," he admitted. Chip didn't usually reveal his feelings to any-one. Lindsey was different; there was a special bond between them since she had confided in him about Simon. Then it had been him giving comfort and support to her. Now the roles were reversed.
Lindsey was still holding his hand. "You're not going to lose him, Chip. Dr Greenberg is the best. Between him and dad, Lee is in good hands," she told him firmly.
Feeling suddenly self-conscious, Chip pulled away, breaking the contact. "I should be getting back," he said.
"You haven't eaten anything," she observed.
"I'm not hungry."
"Eat!" she ordered.
Chip smiled at that. "You sound like your father," he told her.
"I'm not sure whether that's a compliment or an insult," Lindsey smiled.
Nelson knew that he should not expect too much too soon, but he was still disappointed that there had been no improvement in Lee's condition. At least he was no worse. Coming to a sudden decision, he got up and strode out of the office.
Parking in one of the spaces reserved for visitors, Nelson hurried up the steps to the medical centre. Lee was in a side room near ICU on the first floor. Nelson took the elevator up, grateful that it was empty. Arriving at Lee's room, he opened the door and spoke quietly to the nurse on duty. "Can I visit for a while?" he asked.
"Certainly, Admiral." The nurse smiled.
Nelson walked over to the bed and drew up a chair beside it. Lee looked better, his colour had improved, and that had to be a good sign. When he had first seen Lee, he’d been convinced that he wouldn’t last the night. It was thanks to the skill of Jamieson and the E.R staff that Lee’s condition was now stable. Jamieson had warned Nelson that it would take time for Lee to recover from the shock, and severe concussion which had caused pressure inside his skull. They would not know until Lee regained consciousness whether there would be any permanent damage. Nelson knew that the longer Lee was unconscious, the worst it would be.
The other lesser injuries were already healing, although the damage to Lee’s right shoulder and arm might yet need surgery to repair. But that would have to wait until he was stronger. Nelson was still having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that such a thing could have happened here, in Santa Barbara, Seaview’s home port. That had probably made it easier for whom ever was responsible for the attack on Lee. He would not have been expecting anything, so his guard would have been relaxed.
Not for the first time, Nelson wished that there was more that he could do. He felt so inadequate. He’d spent too many hours like this, waiting and hoping, while fearing the worst. Nelson sighed, rubbing a hand over his eyes. It was difficult for everyone, seeing Lee like this, made worse by the fact that it should never have happened. Lee did not deserve this.
Nelson’s mind drifted back to the first time that Lee had commanded Seaview. His somewhat unorthodox arrival had angered the crew, but by the end of the mission Lee had gained the approval and respect of the whole crew. Nelson had watched Lee mature and thrive, doing what he loved. Lee was a natural leader; he had the ability to put people at ease, even under the most difficult of circumstances. That was where he should be now, not in a hospital bed fighting for his life.
His reverie was interrupted by Dr Greenberg coming into the room. The doctor spoke to the nurse before taking Lee’s chart and checked the notes. Replacing the chart, he came to stand next to Nelson. “Admiral, it’s getting late, Sir. Why don’t you go home and get some rest. You’ll be called if there is any change in his condition.”
Nelson shook his head. “I couldn’t sleep,” he said, looking at Lee’s peaceful face. There was an innocent quality that made Nelson want to reach out and hold Lee’s hand. “Does he know that I’m here?”
“We can’t be sure. It’s possible.” Greenberg admitted.
“Thank you, Doctor; for all you’ve done for him,” Nelson was tired, but he did not like the thought of leaving Lee with strangers. Although Dr Greenberg was the best in his field, it still did not feel right to leave Lee.
“Greenberg smiled. “It was a pleasure Admiral, but doctor Jamieson and the E.R staff did a lot.”
Nelson nodded. “I know,” this was not the first time that the good doctor had saved Lee’s life. They were all guilty of taking him for granted at times. Nelson made a mental note to thank him personally.
Crane was regaining consciousness, fighting the ventilator. Greenberg bent over him, skilfully removing the tube from his airway and fixing an oxygen mask over his nose and mouth. Crane continued to fight, trying to push the mask away and the doctor was forced to restrain him. “Captain Crane, it’s all right. You’re in hospital.”
Crane opened his eyes, but they were unfocused; fearful. He clearly did not understand.
“It’s all right, you’re safe now,” Greenberg repeated, trying to re-assure his patient.
“Shall I call Doctor Jamieson?” the nurse suggested.
Crane seemed to respond to that, he turned in her direction and tried to speak. “What was that, Captain?” Greenberg bent closer, trying to hear what he was saying.
“Where…who are you,” Crane whispered.
Greenberg smiled re-assuringly. “You’re in the institute medical centre. I’m Doctor Greenberg; I have been assisting Doctor Jamieson with your treatment.”
“Where is Jamie?” Crane asked weakly.
“He’s off duty now. You will see him tomorrow,” Greenberg told him, replacing the oxygen mask.
Crane shook his head, managing to pull his arm free. “Chip,” his urgent call muffled by the mask.
“Please, Captain, settle down,” Greenberg urged. “I don’t want to have to sedate you.”
Crane was tiring and he could not stop his eyes from closing. But he wasn’t sure that he could trust this so called doctor. He forced his eyes open, fighting to stay awake. “Nelson…want to see…the Admiral,” he insisted, desperate to see a familiar face and know that he was safe.
“In the morning.” The doctor pulled Lee’s arm away, tucking it beneath the covers. “Rest now, Captain.”
Again Lee shook his head. “Don’t want to rest,” he struggled to sit up, but was too weak to do more than lift his head. That caused an explosion of pain in his skull, and pain ran down his right side, making him feel sick, and he found that he could not move his right arm. Carefully he turned to investigate why, almost afraid of what he would find. His arm was hidden beneath the covers. “Can’t move my arm…what?” he asked in panic.
“Shhh, it’s all right. Your arm was injured, but there are no broken bones,” The doctor assured him.
Lee closed his eyes. He was so tired; he couldn’t fight sleep much longer. Only he was afraid that he would wake up to find that this was all a dream and that he was back with Rosjohn and his thugs. With a last effort, he forced his eyes open. The doctor was preparing to administer an injection into the I.V in his arm. “Nooo!” Suddenly he was plunged back into the nightmare. The doctor turned into Rosjohn, standing over him with the hypo.
Dravulone is a very interesting drug. It paralyses the voluntary functions. You will remain conscious, able to hear and feel, but unable to move. A helpless prisoner in your own body.” Rosjohn told him, smiling sadistically.
Crane struggled against the bonds securing his wrists and ankles, visualising what they intended to do to him once they had given him the drug. One of the men bared his arm, holding it while Rosjohn gave the injection. Lee tensed as the needle touched his skin, his heart pounding, as was his head, and he felt like he was suffocating.
“Captain – Lee, calm down, it’s okay.”
The voice was familiar and cool air flowed over him, washing away the hallucination. When he opened his eyes he found Jamieson bending over him, holding the oxygen mask over his face. “Jamie..?” Lee asked tentatively, afraid that Jamieson would disappear and his ordeal would start again.
“That’s better,” Jamieson smiled. “Take it easy, Lee. You’re all right now.”
Jamieson felt real. Exhausted, Lee let his eyes drift shut. He could hear muffled voices as Jamieson spoke to someone he was too sleepy to identify. His head ached and he remembered that he had hit his head when Rosjohn and his men had jumped him outside of his apartment. With another surge of panic, Lee opened his eyes to look for Jamieson. The doctor was standing near the door talking to someone Lee could not see. For a moment he watched Jamieson until finally he came back into the room.
“I thought you were asleep,” he commented.
“Jamie…is that really you?” Lee asked.
“Yes, it’s really me,” Jamieson smiled, moving closer. “Now go back to sleep,” he ordered gently.
Chip jumped as the phone on his desk rang. He’d lost track of how long he’d been sitting there, hoping for good news. With more than a touch of trepidation he reached for the receiver. “Morton here,” he answered.
“Hello, Chip – it’s Lindsey. I thought you’d want to know that Lee has regained consciousness,” she told him.
“Lindsey, that’s great. I’ll be right over, and thanks,” Chip hung up the phone before Lindsey had time to answer and headed for the door. He had grabbed a few hours sleep in his cabin after Jamieson had threatened him if he didn’t. But not wanting to leave the institute in case he was needed. The corridors where deserted as he made his way forward to the sail hatch. He didn’t encounter any-one until he reached the control room.
“Mr Morton, Sir,” the guard snapped to attention as Chip stepped through the hatch.
“At ease,” Morton smiled, returning the salute.
“Yes, Sir – thank you, Sir.”
Chip was still smiling as he climbed the stairs to the sail, leaving the shocked M.P behind. Obviously no one had told the man that Chip was aboard.
Stepping out into the morning sunlight, Chip hurried across the gangplank, briefly acknowledging the M.P patrolling the dock. As the climbed the steps up from Seaview’s berth he was met by a car pulling to a stop.
The driver got out and opened the door. “The Admiral sent me to fetch you, Sir,” he informed him.
Chip nodded and climbed into the back seat. How, he wondered had Nelson known that he was aboard. He suspected that Lindsey must have told him, since she was the only one who knew where to find him.
He travelled the short to the medical centre in silence. Hearing that Lee had regained consciousness was a huge relief, and Chip was anxious to get there to see for himself.
He wasn’t surprised to find that Nelson had beaten him to it. “Is Lee all right?” Chip asked.
“Yes, he’s off the ventilator and breathing on his own, but Will would rather we waited. Lee was very confused and upset. Doc’s with him now.”
“I hate this waiting,” Chip complained. “I just want to see that Lee is okay.”
“I know, Chip. I’m sure that Doc won’t be too long.” Nelson replied.
Lee opened his eyes, blinking against the light, and then in a sudden rush of panic he tried to sit up.
“Lee, it’s okay,” Jamieson soothed as he moved into Lee’s field of vision. “Try not to move around too much. You’ve had a bad knock on the head,” Jamieson cautioned.
“Doc…am I still in one piece?” He asked. Rosjohn had threatened to amputate parts of his anatomy and leave him to die. He had passed out before things got that far.
Jamieson sat on the edge of the bed. “Yes, you have a concussion, and your right arm is badly sprained, and it looks like some-one used you as a punching bag. Fortunately there is nothing that won’t heal,” he assured him.
“Head hurts,” Lee complained. His eyes wouldn’t focus properly and it felt like his head was in a vice.
“That’s the concussion; I’ll get you something for that in a minute. First I need to check you over.”
Despite himself, Lee couldn’t help tensing at the doctor’s touch. Not just because it hurt. He was still feeling on edge, the memory of his ordeal was flooding back. He wanted to shout at Jamieson to leave him alone. Instead he closed his eyes and forced himself to relax.
“Lee, are you still with me?” Jamieson asked.
“Yes, Doc.” Was the only response Lee could manage. He was afraid that if he tried to say more he would lose the very fine thread of control he had on him emotions.
“Nearly finished,” Jamieson told him.
Lee opened his eyes. “How am I doing?”
“Fine, we’ll have you up and about in no time,” Jamieson replied, replacing the blankets over him.
“I thought I was going to die,” Lee admitted with a shudder.
“You very nearly did. If Chip hadn’t found you, you would have.”
“Where is Chip?” Lee asked, realising that Chip was not hovering in the background as he usually did.
Jamieson grinned. “I wondered when you were going to ask. He’s waiting outside with the Admiral. You can see them in a minute, if you want to that is?”
Lee was fighting to stay keep his eyes open. “Not sure I can stay awake,” he admitted. He’d been fighting sleep, afraid that he would wake up back in the nightmare.
“Does that mean that I’m not going to get any argument about you staying put?” Jamieson joked.
“Not today,” Lee smiled sleepily.
Jamieson swabbed Lee’s arm in preparation to administer an injection. “There, that wasn’t so bad was it? Feel up to having visitors?”
Lee nodded. He was tired, but he needed to Chip & Nelson. He watched Jamieson walk to the door.
“You can come in, but don’t stay too long, Lee needs to rest,” the doctor warned.
Nelson’s attention was focused on Lee as he approached the bed. Jamieson watched form the door. He would let them visit for a little while, as much for Lee’s sake as for theirs.
“Hello, Lee, how are you feeling?” Nelson asked, sitting down beside the bed.
“Okay, I guess,” Lee smiled weakly; he looked from Nelson to Morton as Chip perched on the edge of the bed.
“It’s good to be back,” Lee told him.
“Who did this to you?” Nelson asked gently.
Lee shook his head, “I don’t want to think about it.”
“It’s important, I’m trying to protect you,” Nelson urged.
“It’s all right, Lee. You don’t have to talk about it now. It can wait until your stronger,” Jamieson interrupted, hurrying to protect his patient. He ignored the look that he got from Nelson. His first priority was Lee, and if he was upset, his blood pressure would rise, and that wasn’t good in his condition.
“Can I talk to you, outside, Doctor?” Nelson asked.
“Certainly, Admiral”. Jamieson paused to reassure Lee. “I’ll be right outside.”
Lee waited until the door closed behind Jamieson before turning his attention to his friend. “Chip, I hear that I should thank you for saving my life, again.”
“No need. I just did what anyone would have done. To be honest I wasn’t sure that I had done you a favour. I was worried that you would have brain damage.”
“Yeah, well everything seems to be working okay,” Lee assured him. Despite Chip’s attempts to hide it, Lee could see the fatigue on his friend’s face. “How long have you been hanging around here?”
“Since I found you; about four days. I thought when I found you…” Chip’s voice trailed off. His distress at recalling that moment was evident in his body language.
“I thought so too,” Lee admitted. “Thanks for coming to find me.”
Chip shrugged. “I couldn’t let Seaview sail without her Captain,” Chip smiled a little more cheerful.
“Who is minding the boat?” Lee asked, happy to change the subject.
“O’Brien and Peatty.”
Lee grinned. “You left O’Brien in charge?” he teased, feeling better for Chip’s company.
“He can’t get into trouble in dock,” Chip reasoned.
“Come off it Chip, O’Brien is a good officer and you know it. I don’t know why you’re so reluctant to leave him in command.”
“Maybe because he reminds me of another hapless young officer,” Chip retaliated.
“I don’t know what you mean,” Lee said innocently.
Nelson turned on Jamieson. “Doctor Jamieson, I appreciate you’re motives, however, I do not appreciate you interference. There could be unknown dangers, to Lee and Seaview. Or even this medical centre. I have to know what happened so that I know who we are dealing with,” Nelson said in controlled anger.
“I’m sorry, Harry, it will have to wait,” Jamieson said firmly. The doctor’s first priority was his patient, and he was not intimidated by Nelson’s tone. The admiral might be his boss, but when he signed on as Seaview’s CMO, Nelson had given him absolute autonomy on all things medical.
“We can’t wait. Don’t you see?” Nelson continued in frustration.
“Admiral, you don’t seem to realise the severity of Lee’s condition,” Jamieson countered.
“Of course I do!” Nelson snapped back.
“It doesn’t seem like it. Lee is my patient and I will not have him upset.” Jamieson knew that it was the Admiral’s concern for Lee that caused him to be short tempered. “Give him time,” Jamieson continued. Lee wasn’t the only one; Jamieson thought. Lee needed time to recover from the shock and trauma of what had happened. He could see that the last few days had taken their toll on the older man. “Go home, Harry. Get some rest,” he said kindly.
Nelson looked exasperated. “I don’t suppose it would do any good to pull rank,” Nelson said wearily.
Jamieson shook his head. “In here my word is final.”
“That’s long enough, Chip,” Jamieson said, returning to check on Lee.
“Can’t he stay a bit longer? I feel a lot better,” Lee asked.
“So I see,” Jamieson walked over to the bed. He was please to see a marked improvement in Lee’s condition. Although he suspected that it was due in part to the pain killer he’d administered earlier. “All right, he can stay,” Jamieson conceded. “Just don’t over tax your strength. You should be resting,” he told him firmly.
“Yes, Sir.” Lee answered.
Jamieson shook his head in mock disapproval. Pleased that Lee looked and sounded better. His head wound was healing and the stitches would be out in a couple of days. It would do him good to talk to someone, Jamieson decided.
Lee was asleep when Jamieson returned to check on him. Morton had moved to the chair beside the bed. He turned to the door as Jamieson entered. Jamieson walked over to the bed and stood watching his patient, noting his colour and slow steady breathing.
“He dozed off about half an hour ago,” Chip said quietly.
Jamieson nodded. “Sleep will do him good. Has he told you anything?” The doctor enquired, turning his attention to Morton.
Chip shook his head. “No.”
“He’ll tell us when he is ready.” They both turned back to Lee as he turned his head and groaned softly. Jamieson moved closer and took Lee’s wrist to check his pulse.
“Is he all right?” Chip worried.
“Yes, he’s over the worst of it.”
Lee stirred again, pulling away from Jamieson’s hold and opened his eyes. “Doc, I was dreaming,” he said sleepily.
“How do you feel?” Jamieson asked. Lee would probably have a few bad dreams after what he had been through.
“Thirsty, can I have something to drink?”
Jamieson smiled. “Of course.” This was a good sign. Now that Lee was able to take fluids they could remove the drip. Jamieson poured a glass of water from the jug on the cabinet beside the bed. “Here,” he helped Lee sit up and supported him while he drank. “Take it slow,” he cautioned. “Better?” he asked, easing Lee back against the pillows.
Lee nodded “Thanks.”
“We can take this away now and make you more comfortable. Then you can go back to sleep,” Jamieson disconnected the I.V and gently removed the needle from Lee’s arm and pressed a cotton wool pad over the puncture to stop the bleeding. Lee’s eyes were already closing and by the time Jamieson had finished, Lee was asleep. “Now, as for you Mr Morton,” Jamieson said, turning his gaze to the blond. “You can go home and get some sleep,” he continued firmly. Both Nelson and Morton looked exhausted and he doubted that either one of them had slept for more than a couple of hours since Lee had been rushed in.
“I’m okay, Doc,” Morton replied, straightening in the chair.
Jamieson folded his arm and regarded Seaview’s exec. “Out, and I don’t want to see you back here for at least eight hours,” he warned.
“But…” Chip tried to protest.
“Do you want me to have you escorted off the premises? He threatened. “Lee will be okay. If you are needed I’ll have someone call you.”
“All right, I’m going. But I will be back in eight hours.”
Jamieson nodded. “I know.” Being a doctor helped him deal with the anguish, fear and grief. When you are busy saving some-one’s life, you don’t have the time to think about it. It’s only afterwards that it hits you. Even now he was still not immune. So he could understand what effect this was having on Morton.
Nelson removed his tie as he stepped out of the elevator into his penthouse apartment at the top of the institute main building. The apartment was quiet; he hadn’t been here much over the past few days, preferring instead to spend most of the time between visiting Lee and trying to concentrate on work. Hanging the tie over the back of a chair, he headed for the kitchen to put on some coffee. Leaving the coffee to percolate, Nelson wondered through into the lounge. The room faced seaward, and a large window gave a view out over the cliffs and Seaview’s secret berth. That took his mind back to Lee. With all the resources at his disposal, he couldn’t find the people responsible for the attack on Lee. Someone must have seen something, but apparently none of Lee’s neighbours has seen or heard anything. It was all so frustrating. At least Lee was on the mend; that was some consolation.
For the first time in days Nelson actually felt hungry. Looking at his watch, he wondered if Chip Morton was still on the premises. The young officer had only left Lee’s side after being threatened by Doc Jamieson. Maybe he could coerce Morton into joining him in the cafeteria. Turning from the window, he moved to the telephone to call the gatehouse. “This is Nelson, is Mr Morton still on the premises?”
“Yes, Sir. Mr Morton hasn’t logged out at all since Monday,” the guard told him.
“Thank you,” Nelson replaced the receiver. He wasn’t surprised to hear that Morton had not left the institute, and he had a good idea of where to find the X.O. Returning to the kitchen briefly to turn off the percolator, he headed for the elevator.
Nelson knocked on Morton’s cabin door and was rewarded with a reply. “Mr Morton, would you join me for dinner in the cafeteria, please?” Nelson asked briskly as he entered the cabin.
Caught totally by surprise, Morton looked up from his desk in open astonishment. “Me, Sir?”
“Yes you, Mr Morton. That is if you haven’t already eaten,” Nelson smiled. It wasn’t often that the famous Morton mask slipped to show his real feelings. Most of the time it was impossible to tell what he was thinking, which often infuriated Nelson.
“Er, no sir,” Chip stumbled. “That is, I haven’t eaten.”
“Well come along then, Mr Morton – I’m hungry,” Nelson interrupted.
“Yes, Sir,” Morton got to his feet and grabbed his jacket from the back of the chair.
“You’re slipping, Mr Morton,” Nelson joked. He had never known Morton hang anything over a chair. His cabin was always neat and tidy.
Morton looked at him blankly as he followed him out. Nelson waited while he locked the cabin door, before marched him off down the corridor, smiling to himself.
Lee tossed restlessly in his sleep, bring Jamieson to his bedside. Sitting on the edge of the bed, Jamieson gave Lee a gently shake. “Come on, Lee – wake up.”
Lee’s eyes flickered open and slowly his golden-brown eyes focused on Jamieson. “Doc?”
Jamieson smiled. “How are you this morning?” he asked as he took Lee’s wrist to check his pulse.
“Head still hurts,” Lee complained, trying to prop himself up with his good arm.
“That’s the concussion,” Jamieson replied, as he rearranging the pillows behind Lee to support him. Lee’s pulse was faster than the doctor wanted it to be. He reached out and felt Lee’s forehead to see if he was feverish. “Anything else?” he asked.
“No, I’m just uncomfortable.”
Nurse Graham tells me that you had a bad night. She said that every time she checked on you, you were awake.”
“I couldn’t sleep.” Lee told him.
“She also told me that you wouldn’t take anything,” Jamieson informed him. This was typical of Lee. He wasn’t the easiest of patients, and treating him was always an uphill battle.
“Don’t like pills,” Lee answered with a trace of irritability creeping into his voice.
Jamieson sighed. “I know;” for a moment he regarded his patient, wondering, not for the first time, why Lee disliked hospitals so much. “What I don’t know is why.”
“Sorry, I’ve been a pain, haven’t I,” Lee apologised quietly, lowering his gaze from Jamieson.
“Are you going to tell me what happened?” Jamieson encouraged, perching on the edge of the bed.
Lee looked hesitant. “It was a long time ago. An American Ambassador was being held hostage by terrorists in South Africa. I was part of the rescue party. Our contact was a Captain Rosjohn…” Lee’s voice trailed off, his eyes clouded with pain.
Jamieson put a reassuring hand on his shoulder. “It’s okay, take your time.”
Lee took a deep breath. “It turned out that Rosjohn was a traitor, we walked into a trap. I was the only one to get out alive, but not before I’d killed Rosjohn,” Lee looked up at him. “It was him or me.”
“It’s okay. I’m sure you did what you had to do. No-one blames you,” Jamieson comforted.
“Who?” Jamieson prompted gently.
“His son,” Lee answered, staring up at the ceiling. “He refuses to believe that his father was a traitor. He blames me; he said that I was the traitor.” Lee shivered. “They threatened to amputate parts of me and leave me to die,” Lee closed his eyes, clearly distressed.
“It’s all right, Lee. No-one can hurt you now,” Jamieson reassured him. Somehow words did not seem enough after what Lee must have gone through. “What made them change their minds?” he asked gently.
Lee shrugged and grimaced in pain. “I don’t remember. I guess I must have passed out. Perhaps they thought I was dead.”
Jamieson patted Lee’s shoulder. “Hang in there; you’re going to be all right.”
Lee opened his eyes, “Thanks Doc.”
Jamieson smiled. “I’ll get you something for that headache, and then do you feel up to eating some breakfast? He asked. It was important that Nelson should know what Lee had told him, but Jamieson wanted to make sure that Lee was okay before he left him.
“I’ll try.” Lee replied a little sheepish.
Nelson’s secretary opened the door to his office. “Admiral, Doctor Jamieson is here to see you,” she announced.
“Will, what brings you here? Is something wrong?” Nelson asked, getting to his feet.
“No, Harry, everything is fine”, Jamieson quickly reassured him as he entered the office and approached Nelson’s desk.
“Sit down, Will,” Nelson indicated the chair opposite before settling back into his own chair.
Jamieson nodded and sat down. “I’ve been to see Lee this morning,” he told Nelson.
“How is he?” Nelson immediately asked.
Jamieson smiled. “He’s doing fine. Give him a few more days and he’ll be itching to get out of there.” Then the fun starts; he though silently.
Nelson relaxed visibly, grinning at the doctor’s last comment. “So what brings you here?”
“My report,” Jamieson handed over the file he was holding. “And there’s something else. Lee told me what happened.” He informed him, resting back in the chair and watching Nelson’s reactions.
Nelson lent forward, fire burning in his blue eyes. “And?” he prompted.
“The guys name is Rosjohn, he’s the son of a Captain Rosjohn,” Jamieson began.
Chip Morton knocked at Nelson’s office door and waited for to call before entering. “You wanted to see me, Admiral?”
“Yes, Chip – come in,” Nelson stood and walked around his desk. “Have a seat,” he invited, moving to the couch by the window where Jamieson was already seated. “Have you been to see Lee this morning?” Nelson asked.
“No, I was on my way there when I got your message. Why, is something wrong?” Chip asked, worried by the doctor’s presence.
“No, nothing’s wrong,” Nelson assured him. “But we do know who was responsible for the attack on Lee.”
“You do?” Chip was a little surprised; he wondered how they had come by this information.
Jamieson nodded. “I had a talk with Lee this morning, he told me what happened.”
“We don’t have all the details yet,” Nelson interrupted. “ONI are not admitting to knowing anything about Rosjohn, or a Captain Rosjohn. But I’ve called in a favour…”
“Rosjohn, is that who attacked Lee?” Chip asked. “Do we know why?” Lee had never mentioned the name, but that was not unusual. There were a lot of things in Lee’s time with ONI that he never talked about, and Chip knew that was something that annoyed Nelson.
“It seems that Lee was involved in a rescue mission. A Captain Rosjohn was supposedly their contact, only Rosjohn was collaborating with the terrorist group holding an American ambassador whom they had been sent to rescue. Apparently Lee was the only one to get out alive. He was forced to kill Rosjohn in the process,” Nelson finished.
“So how does that tie in with the attack on Lee?”
“It’s his son. He blames Lee for his father’s death,” Nelson explained.
“But why now? Why didn’t he do something before?” Chip wanted to know.
“We don’t know. Maybe Lee can tell us more.” Nelson answered.
“I doubt it,” Chip was surprised that Lee had told Jamieson anything. “So what happens now?”
“Firstly we need more information about this Rosjohn. Exactly who he is and what he is doing here,” Nelson replied.
“That is obvious. Revenge for the death of his father,” Chip commented.
“Agreed,” Nelson concurred. “But from what Doc has told me, Rosjohn had some help.”
Jamieson nodded agreement. “There is something else you should know. Lee was drugged. I found needle marks on his arm that I didn’t put there, so I ran a full blood chemistry. We found dravulon.”
“What’s that?” Chip asked.
“It’s a muscle relaxant, usually used in surgical procedures. Whoever this Rosjohn is he had to have medical training. Too much and the heart would stop. Lee would have been helpless, unable to move or even speak, but able to see, hear and feel.” Jamieson finished grimly.
“Bastard!” Chip whispered, his fists clenched in anger. If he ever got his hands on Rosjohn…”
Nelson gave him a stern look, but made no comment. “I’m going to Washington in the morning.” Nelson informed them. “Chip, I want you to double security.”
“Yes, sir,” Chip acknowledged, he was already getting to his feet.
Crane shifted restlessly, frustrated by his inability to even get in and out of bed unaided. He still felt very weak, and had trouble with his balance. Jamieson had told him that it was normal after a head injury and that it would get better. But that wasn’t happening fast enough for his liking. Using his good arm, he tried to fluff up the pillows to get comfortable, but he could hardly lift his head and gave up with a groan. Why were hospital beds always so uncomfortable? He thought irritably. He turned expectantly to the door as it opened, only to be disappointed as a nurse came in with a tray.
“Captain, what have you been doing to your bed?” She chastised.
“Trying to get comfortable,” Lee retaliated sharply, his discomfort and frustration making him short tempered.
“Why didn’t you call?” she asked, placing the tray on the bedside cabinet.
“I couldn’t reach the button.” He hated feeling so helpless. He hated hospitals and suddenly found himself wishing that he was in sickbay. At least he got some respect from the Corpsman. He knew it was stupid and childish but he wanted people that he knew and felt comfortable with – he wanted Jamieson, not some doctor that he didn’t know and didn’t particularly like.
“Captain, are you all right?” the nurse asked, interrupting his malaise.
“Yes, sorry, I didn’t mean to snap,” he apologised, realising that he was feeling sorry for himself. It was not in his nature to wallow in self pity.
“That’s okay – head injuries have that effect,” the nurse smiled. “Now let’s see what I can do about your bed.” She helped him sit-up while she fluffed the pillows, then eased him back against them before straightened the covers. After checking his pulse and temperature, she noted them on the chart. “I’ll call doctor Jamieson and ask him for something to help you sleep.”
“Is there a problem, Captain?” Jamieson asked as he entered Crane’s room. He could guess what the problem was – Lee had had enough of being in hospital and wanted out.
“How much longer am I going to be here?” Lee asked.
“That’s difficult to say, but at least another week,” Jamieson told him. Approaching the bed he pulled over a chair and sat down. “I’m sorry, Lee; there is nothing else for it. You need medical care and we may have to operate to repair the damage to your shoulder,” he told him.
“Can’t you treat me aboard Seaview, in sickbay?”
Jamieson was a little surprised by that request. He was beginning to realise that there was more to this than Lee’s dislike of hospitals. “You’re perfectly safe here. There is a guard outside the door, and Chip is personally overseeing security,” he assured him.
“It’s not that…I want my own people, not a doctor that I don’t know,” he hesitated. “I want you.”
“I’m here. Doctor Greenberg and the nursing staff consult me about all your treatment,” Jamieson assured him. He could understand Lee feeling vulnerable after what he had been though.
“I don’t care,” Lee snapped. “I don’t want Greenberg, I don’t even like the man, and I won’t stay here,” he struggled to get up, throwing off the covers. “And where the hell is Chip?” he demanded, becoming more irate.
Jamieson got to his feet. “Captain please, calm down,” he gently pushed him back. “Chip is busy. He rang to see how you were,” he informed him. “Now lie still, you’ll aggravate your condition if you keep this up,” the doctor warned, replacing the covers over Lee. Jamieson could see that keeping Lee here was not helping his recovery. He would have to speak to Nelson before he left for Washington.
Lee subsided, settling back against the pillows. “Sorry, Doc, I didn’t mean…I just feel so damn helpless,” he apologised, looking embarrassed. “I feel like a child having a tantrum, but I couldn’t stop myself.”
Jamieson smiled. “It’s not your fault. Aggression is an effect of concussion. It should pass,” he told him.
“Thanks, Jamie,” Lee smiled sheepishly.
“Try and get some sleep now, I’ll be back to check on you later.” Jamieson looked at his watch; maybe he could catch Nelson before he left.
Jamieson knocked and entered Nelson’s office. “Have you got a minute, Admiral?”
“Of course, Will. Come in,” Nelson said, looking up from the paperwork on his desk.
“I think we have a problem, Lee is getting restless,” Jamieson told him as he approached and dropped into the chair in front of Nelson’s desk.
“Well we knew that would happen sooner or later,” Nelson replied, leaning back in the chair.
“I know, I was just hoping that it would be later,” Jamieson sighed as he dropped into the chair in front of Nelson’s desk.
“What do you recommend?” Nelson asked, regarding the doctor across the desk.
“I don’t know,” Jamieson replied thoughtfully. “There is no way that he can go home, he needs medical attention. Lee has asked if I can treat him in sickbay.”
Nelson nodded. “Okay, Doc, it’s your call. It would make things easier for security,” he commented.
“Thanks, Admiral. I’ll talk to Lee.” Jamieson pushed himself to his feet and turned to leave.
“Doc, is Lee okay?” Nelson asked.
Jamieson paused. “Yes, Admiral, what concerns me is that he will discharge himself.” Jamieson had past experience of Lee walking out of sickbay against his orders.
“I don’t think that is likely, he can hardly stand,” Nelson pointed out.
“When has that ever stopped him?” Jamieson disputed. The Captain was far too skilled at sneaking off without telling anyone. He also had the ability to get past guards unseen.
“Umm, you’ve got a point,” Nelson conceded. “I think I’ll pay him a visit and make sure that he is behaving himself,” he said, getting up from the desk.
“Good luck,” Jamieson grinned.
“Thanks,” Nelson walked with Jamieson to the door. “I think I’m going to need more than luck,” he joked.
“Hello, Lee – how are you doing?” Nelson tried to sound casual; he didn’t want Lee to think that he and Jamieson had been conspiring.
“Admiral, what are you doing here?” Lee asked in surprise.
Nelson walked over and sat down beside the bed. “I was just on my way home, so I thought I’d stop in. Doc said that it was okay,” he lied. “How are you feeling?”
“I’m okay, I just want to get out of here,” Lee sounded despondent.
“No chance of that yet, I’m afraid. You’ll have to be patient,” Nelson told him. “Want to talk about it?” Nelson asked, guessing that Lee was bottling things up as usual.
“There’s nothing to talk about, I’m fine,” Lee told him.
“Why don’t you start by telling me why you hate hospitals so much,” Nelson suggested.
“I don’t hate hospitals, I just don’t like being a patient,” Lee answered irritably
Nelson couldn’t help smiling at Lee’s evasive answer. It was the sort of response that he had expected. Lee had never revealed to anyone why he disliked hospitals. Nelson presumed that it was a part of his past that he didn’t talk about. “Have you thought about where you want to go when you get out of here?” Nelson enquired.
“What do you mean?” Lee glared at him. “I’m not going anywhere, am I?”
“Hasn’t doc told you? You’ll need to convalesce for at least a month,” Nelson told him.
“What if I refuse?”
“Then doc will keep you here,” Nelson informed him, letting Lee know that there was no way that he was going to get his own way this time. “Unless of course you want to resign.”
Lee sighed. “A month of sitting around doing nothing - I don’t think I can handle that,” he said, his expressive eyes veiled by long lashes as he lowered his gaze from Nelson’s.
Nelson chuckled. “Cheer up, just think of all those pretty nurses fussing over you.”
“Knowing my luck, I’ll get a battle-axe,” Lee grumbled.
“Well, I’m afraid the nursing staff are not my responsibility, but if you behave yourself, I’ll see what I can do,” Nelson smiled, knowing that Lee wouldn’t argue. Nelson was more than capable of making his life difficult if he didn’t follow orders.
“I could discharge myself,” Lee threatened.
“Do that and you will be saying goodbye to your command. I expect my officers to follow orders,” Nelson warned. He knew that Lee was just being stubborn. The young officer did not take kindly to being manipulated by anyone. “Now get some sleep. We’ll talk again in the morning.”
“Yes, Admiral,” Lee replied reluctantly.
Crane woke with fragmented images from the nightmare still floating in his vision. Struggling to prop himself up with his good arm, he looked around the room to assure himself that this was real and he was safe. He felt like a child again, woken in the night by a bad dream – alone and frightened. Only he wasn’t a child, and it was daylight outside. Throwing back the covers he swung his legs over the side of the bed and sat on the edge. The effort had made his heart race and his head throbbed. Why wouldn’t the nagging headache that had been with him for days go away? He had to get out of there before he went crazy. But where were his clothes? Did he have any here? He couldn’t walk out in pyjamas.
Cautiously he got to his feet and found his slippers by the side of the bed. Some-one had thought to bring them – probably Chip. Abruptly the room spun and he felt light headed, forcing him to sit on the bed again and wait for things to stabilise. Investigating the closet he found a shirt and pair of pants. For a moment he faltered as he realised that the pants were the same ones he’d been wearing when he was attacked, although the shirt was new. Shaking slightly he took the clothes back to the bed.
It took him awhile to change out of his pyjamas and dress. Pulling on the pants sent torturous jolts of pain from his arm and shoulder through his body, making him feel queasy. The shirt was little easier, he eased his injured arm in first- trying to fasten the buttons was another challenge, which he did sitting on the bed. Putting socks on hurt like hell and by the time he had finished he was trembling and the pain in his arm returned with a vengeance. He poured a glass of water and drank slowly while he recovered from the excursion, using the time to work out how he was going to get past the guard.
Sometime later, Lee found himself at Seaview’s dock. Instinct, rather than conscious thought had brought him here. Seaview was his second home, he felt safe here. Although he still thought of New England as home, and he visited whenever circumstances allowed. But he would never admit that to anyone, especially Jamieson. Maybe he would move back there one day. He’d never really looked upon Santa Barbara as a permanent place to settle.
No one appeared to have notice him, as for a few minutes he stood watching the activity dockside. It felt good to be out in the fresh air and feel the warmth of the sun after the antiseptic atmosphere of the medical centre. Suddenly he didn’t like dimly lit places any more. He worried that he would not be able to face commanding Seaview again. They very often spent long periods of time submerged. It had never bothered him before. Seaview was like a dream come true. Lee smiled as his eyes travelled the length of her elegant shape. His doubts dissipated – this was where he belonged.
Feeling more at ease he started down the steps to the dockside. Several of the men stopped what they were doing and saluted as he approached. Unable to return their salute because of his injured arm, he nodded and moved on towards the gangplank where Lieutenant Williams was officer of the watch. Seeing Crane approach, he disappeared from the conning tower to emerge a minute later from the sail hatch. “Captain Crane, Sir,” what are you doing? I mean,” the officer faltered.
Crane smiled. “Permission to come aboard?” he joked.
Williams relaxed. “Of course, welcome back, Sir,” he smiled back, stepping to one side to allow Crane to precede him to the hatch.
The officer seemed pleased, if surprised to see Crane, and he couldn’t suppress his own pleasure at being back aboard his command. It made him proud to think that he had such a loyal crew. The men would follow orders unquestionably, even when Crane doubted the sanity of those orders himself. “Thank you, carry on.”
“Yes, Sir – thank you, Sir,” Williams saluted before turning to leave.
The control room was empty except for a MP. The climb down from the sail had taken all Crane’s strength and he was forced to hold onto the ladder to stay upright, while he recovered his breath and the pain in his arm receded to an ache.
“Captain Crane, Sir – what are you doing aboard?” the guard echoed Williams surprise.
“I thought I was in command of this vessel,” Crane joked.. “Is Mr Morton aboard?”
No, Sir – none of the crew are aboard. Would you like me to call someone?” he offered, looking concerned.
Crane was not feeling so good and he sat down at the radar station. “No, that’s all right,” he answered. He couldn’t blame the man for looking at him like that. If he looked anything like he felt, he must look ready to drop.
“Are you sure you’re all right, sir?” the MP asked, “Can I get you anything?”
“No thank you. I’ll just sit here for a bit.” Serves you right for disobeying doc’s orders, Crane chided himself. All hell would break lose when they discovered that he was missing.
“Yes, sir,” the guard turned away to continue his round of the control room.
Crane looked around the empty room. There was something unreal about the silence. He missed the regular ping of the sonar, the vibration of the engines through the decking, the hum of the air recon and the sound of voices. His gaze stopped at the chart table, strangely empty without the familiar figure of Chip Morton, Seaview’s exec. Chip would not be happy when he found that Lee had sneaked out. No doubt he would be in for another of Chip’s lectures.
Feeling better, he started to get up, and then stumbled as the room spun. He reached for the support of the periscope island, missed and swayed, almost falling.
“Easy, Captain – I’ve got you.”
Lee recognised Jamieson’s voice as firm hands guided him to the chart table stool and he gratefully sat down. Closing his eyes, he slumped forward against Jamieson’s support, feeling nauseous.
“Lee?” Jamieson pushed him back into the chair. “Damn,” the doctor cursed softly.
The dizziness was passing. Lee managed to raise his head and look up at a worried Jamieson standing in front of him. “I’m all right now,” he told him. Not all together convinced of it himself.
Jamieson studied him for a moment; clearly he did not believe that Lee was ‘all right’. “Can you stand?”
“I think so.” With Jamieson’s help Lee gingerly stood, ready to grab hold of Jamieson if the dizziness returned. “I’m not going back to hospital,” he told Jamieson resolutely.
“Will you settle for sickbay?”
“For now,” Lee agreed. In reality he was happy to go to sickbay. He just wanted to lie down. But he would not admit that to Jamieson. There was a constant battle of wills between them when it came to Lee having any type of medical treatment. “Where did you come from?” Lee asked as they headed toward the aft hatch. He hadn’t heard the doctor enter the control room, he must have been more out of it than he realised.
“When you turned up missing I had a hunch that you would be here,” Jamieson told him.
“Sorry, Jamie, I just had to get out of there,” Lee found himself apologising again.
“So you came to the one place that you felt safe, Seaview.” Jamieson replied gently. “It’s okay, there’s no harm done.”
“Aren’t you going to yell or something?” Lee asked, confused by the doctor’s forgiving attitude.
“Feeling better?” Jamieson asked, settling Lee into a bunk in sickbay.
“I feel like an idiot,” Lee admitted. He’d let a dream frighten him into running to the security of Seaview. Jamieson was right, he did feel safe here. “What’s wrong with me doc? I feel like I’m losing control.” Lee asked. He knew that he had acted crazy, but he couldn’t stop the impulse to hide away from everything.
“It’s normal with a head injury. The brain is a very complex organ. It will pass,” Jamieson told him. “In the mean time, you can stay here until the Admiral decides what to do next.”
“The Admiral?” Lee asked in dismay as he remembered Nelson’s warning the previous night. He was probably in big trouble. “I guess he’s not too pleased?” he ventured.
“Don’t panic Captain; no one is going to criticize what you did. Besides, the Admiral is in Washington,” Jamieson informed him.
“He is?” Lee could guess why Nelson had gone to Washington and he wished that Nelson would let it alone. He just wanted to forget about what had happened and get back to captaining Seaview. They both turned to the door as it burst open and Chip Morton entered.
“Lee, thank heavens you’re safe! How the hell did you get past the guard?” he demanded.
“Classified,” Lee grinned. Getting past the guard had been easy. Placating Chip Morton would not be.
Chip shook his head. “Well, you’re still the same stubborn, knuckle-headed Lee Crane.”
“Thanks, It’s nice to see you too, Chip,” Lee replied with a smile. He knew that Chip’s annoyance was from anxiety for his safety, not from anger. He was used to getting yelled at by his friend and XO. Better that he take it out on him rather than some unfortunate crewman.
“Lee, those guards were there for a reason,” Chip told him.
“I know,” Lee said quietly, suppressing a shudder at the thought of Rosjohn. “Sit down, Chip,” he asked.
Silently Chip found a chair and sat down beside the bunk.
“How much has doc told you?” Lee asked. He had only told Jamieson half the story, but he suspected that doc had put some of the pieces together.
“We know that that you were beaten, drugged and threatened, probably tortured.”
Lee nodded. “The worst thing was the drug. I couldn’t move, couldn’t yell, and couldn’t do anything to stop them…” he was shaking. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath.
“It’s okay, Lee – I’m here, buddy,” Chip comforted.
Lee felt Chip’s hand on his shoulder. He opened his eyes, but could not face his friend. “He held a knife to me and threatened to castrate me,” Lee continued. “He said that if I was lucky I would pass out from the pain before I bleed to death.”
“Lee, did he assault you?” Jamieson asked, moving closer.
Lee shook his head. “No…I was so angry and scared that I couldn’t stop him.” He had never felt so helpless. In the whole of his career he had never experienced anything like this.
“I call that assault,” Chip raged. His usual cool persona momentarily lost. “If I ever get my hands on that bastard, I promise he will never come near you again.”
“No, Chip, you can’t do anything, he has diplomatic immunity,” Lee told him.
“To hell with that.” Chip objected strongly. “He can’t get away with this. What if he decides to try again?”
“He won’t. As far as he knows, I’m dead.” Lee could not remember ever seeing Chip so angry. His usual calm had turned into a smouldering volcano waiting to explode.
“You can’t stay dead forever,” Chip told him.
“Yeah, well I’m sure the Admiral will handle it through the proper channels,” Lee replied. He hoped that Chip would be sensible. He had a tendency to shoot first and ask questions later.
“All right, Captain – that’s enough for now. You should be resting,” Jamieson interrupted.
“I don’t want to rest, Jamie, it gives me too much time to think,” Lee admitted. What he needed was a distraction. Some female company and a drink, but he knew that he would have to wait for a while.
“Would you like me to ask Lindsey to stop by?” Jamieson asked.
Lee blushed, he had no idea that Jamieson knew that he had tried to date his daughter. “No thanks, doc, I’d rather it be her own idea.”
“You know Lee, sometimes you’re too damn noble for your own good,” Chip teased
Chip stared at the paper on the desk in front of him. He’d been trying to write a letter to Mrs Crane, Lee’s mother. But what the hell was he supposed to tell her? He could hardly tell her that some-one had tried to kill her son. Maybe he should go and see her. After all, if Lee really had died, that’s what he would have done. However, that would mean leaving Lee, and with the Admiral being away he was reluctant to do so. The only other thing was to call her. He was about to reach for the phone when it rang. “Morton here,” he answered.
“Sorry to disturb you, Sir – this is the gate house. We have a Commander Collins asking to see the Admiral. He claims to know Captain Crane. We’ve checked his I.D, he’s with British Intelligence,” the guard reported.
“Okay, have him escorted to the dock, I’ll meet him there,” Morton instructed. Intrigued by this unexpected visitor, Chip replaced the receiver and got to his feet. What did British Intelligence want with Nelson? Lee had never spoken of Collins, but that didn’t mean anything. There was a lot about Lee’s time with O.N.I that he never talked about. Closing the cabin door behind him, Chip headed forward to ‘B’ deck where a ladder would take him to the control room.
Chip shook hands with the tall, dark commander. “I’m Morton, Seaview’s exec. What can I do for you, commander?”
“Actually, I just came to offer my condolences. I cannot believe that Lee Crane is dead,” Collins said, shaking his head.
“Thank you,” Chip hesitated, not sure how to break the news that Lee was alive. “Won’t you come aboard?” he invited.
“Thank you, I’d be delighted to see the inside of your famous submarine,” accepted politely.
“Then follow me,” Chip turned crisply and headed across the gangplank. The conning tower was an imposing structure up close. Chip opened the hatch and waited to allow Collins to precede him through. “This way,” Chip took the easier route rather than the long climb down the ladder that Lee always complained had too many rungs. They had both gotten into the habit of dropping the last few rungs, but that could be risky if Seaview was riding a heavy swell or making a crash dive. At the bottom of the spiral staircase Chip stopped and waited for Collins.
The control room needed no explanation and Chip stood letting the commander take in his surroundings.
“I’ve heard a lot about the Seaview, but she is even more remarkable in reality,” Collins said, gazing appreciatively towards the nose.
“Thanks, we’re all very proud of her,” Chip replied as his thoughts returned to Seaview’s Captain. “If you’ll follow me, commander, there is some-one I think you’d like to see.”
Turning from his scrutiny of the control room, Collins looked at him. “Sounds very mysterious.” He said curious.
“How long have you known Lee?” Morton asked, leading the way aft to the hatch.
“Several years.” Collins replied.
Collins was giving anything away, and Chip needed to be sure that he could trust him before they reached sickbay. “How long are you here?” Chip enquired, pausing at the top of the ladder.
“I’m not sure, I’ve taken some leave. I am sorry that I missed Lee’s funeral,” Collins sounded genuinely sorry.
“You didn’t,” Chip told him.
“What?” Collins grabbed Chip’s arm. “Hold on there, what do you mean, I didn’t?” he demanded, his grey/blue eyes darkening. “I thought Lee was buried at sea.”
Chip jerked his arm free. “Can I trust you, commander?” he asked bluntly.
“What sort of a damn fool question is that?” Collins snapped, looking insulted.
“A pertinent one, considering that someone tried to kill Lee,” Chip retailed, before continuing along the corridor.
“Tried – you mean Lee isn’t dead?” He asked, following after Chip.
“No, he isn’t, thank goodness,” Chip confirmed, suppressing a shudder at the memory of finding Lee. A few more strides took him to the junction of two corridors, turning the corner he stopped outside sickbay and opened the door. “Lee, you have a visitor,” he announced as he entered.
“James, what the devil are you doing here?” Lee smiled in greeting.
“I’ll leave you two to catch up. We can talk later, commander,” Chip turned to the still open door. He had a lot of arrangements to make if Seaview was going to be ready to sail.
“So, what is the plan? I take it that you intend to deal with this Rosjohn?” Collins asked over coffee with Chip in the observation nose.
“Personally, I’d like to kill the son of a bitch. But while he’s on American soil I can’t touch him. I can’t risk dragging the institute into a diplomatic row.”
“But if you could?”
“I know a deserted island. I’d leave him there for a few days, give him time to reflect on the error of his ways,” Chip replied. However, he knew that Nelson would not approve of him taking matters into his own hands.
“After what he did to Lee, he deserves all he gets,” Collins said. “I’d be happy to help. I am not an American, I could do things that you cannot,” he offered.
Chip regarded him thoughtfully. “I have a plan – I’ll let you know.”
Collins finished his coffee and returned the cup to the table. “Thank you for the coffee, I will not keep you. I am sure that you have things to do. You can reach me at the James House hotel,” he said, extending a hand to Chip.
Chip shook hands. “Thank you, commander. I’ll escort you topside, and have someone take you to your car.”
After checking on Lee, Chip headed for the control room to put a call through to Nelson. Lee had seemed a lot better, although after an eventful day he had tired and Jamieson has said no more visitors until tomorrow.
Chip was sure that being aboard Seaview had helped Lee’s condition, even though it would be some time before Lee would be fit enough to return to duty. In the interim, Chip wondered what Nelson had planned for Seaview. Chip had a few ideas of his own for the Flying Sub, but he couldn’t launch her while they were berthed.
Reaching the radio shack, Chip put the headset on and started flicking switches; bring the equipment to life before turning the dial to the institute frequency. “Seaview to Nelson Institute, come in please, over.”
“Receiving you Seaview – go ahead Mr Morton,” the operator replied almost immediately.
“Can you patch me through to Admiral Nelson?” Chip asked.
“Hold on, Sir – I’ll try.”
Chip waited while the operator called Washington and tried to contact Nelson. He wondered how Lee would react to being kidnapped by this exec, aboard his own command. At least he wouldn’t be bored.
“Hello, Chip – is something wrong?” Nelson’s voice came over the radio.
“Good evening, Admiral. No, nothing is wrong, Sir,” Chip replied. “I would like to request permission to launch Seaview.”
“I think it would help Lee’s recovery to get back to some sort of normality, Admiral. I am not suggesting that he is fit to return to duty, but a short cruise might take his mind off things,” Chip explained.
The Admiral was clearly suspicious, and had probably seen straight through Chip’s excuse. “What did you have in mind?” the Admiral asked.
“A visit to San Diego harbour museum. It would be a good public relations exercise,” Chip pointed out.
“And a good way to lure Rosjohn out,” Nelson voiced what Chip had been thinking. “Very well, permission granted. But be careful, Mr Morton,” Nelson warned.
“Yes, Sir - Seaview out,” Chip turned off the radio and removed the headset. Now he needed a crew.
“You wanted to see me, Sir?” Chief Sharkey asked as he arrived in the control room.
“Yes, Chief. Is Mr O’Brien still topside?” Morton asked. He needed some-one to take the first watch.
“I believe so, Sir, would you like me to find him?”
“Yes, Chief, and prepare to sail in the morning. We get underway as soon as we have a full crew. You’d better tell O’Brien.” Chip told him.
“Yes, Sir...Err, are we going somewhere, Mr Morton? What about the Skipper?” Sharkey asked, looking doubtful.
“Captain Crane is aboard, but he is not to be disturbed,” Chip told him.
“Carry on, Chief,” Chip prompted. He did not want to spend time explaining everything now. He would do that later when all the crew were aboard.
Collins returned to his hotel room to start working on a plan. Lee was safe for the moment, but Rosjohn had to be taken care of. At some point Lee would have to return to a normal life and he could not be watched 24 hours a day for the rest of his life.
As a British Agent Collins could do things that an American Officer could not. From what Morton had told him, they needed to get Rosjohn off American soil. He had arranged to meet an old friend, who just happened to be with the C.I.A. He would have access to information and a fast boat. Picking up his room key, he slipped it into his pocket and headed for the door.
Nick Garcia was seated at the bar sipping a Whiskey. “James, what are you drinking?” he greeted as Collins joined him.
“Vodka on Ice, thanks,” Collins smiled, settling himself on a stool beside him.
Garcia signalled the barman. “Vodka on Ice and a refill for me,” he ordered, then turned his attention to Collins. “So, what do you need?” he asked.
“A fast boat,” Collins replied, coming straight to the point.
Garcia nodded, “Okay, that shouldn’t be a problem. Anything else?”
Collins was momentarily distracted by the arrival of his drink and nodded a thank you to the bartender before answering. “I need anything you can get on a Captain Rosjohn. Apparently he’s visiting the US with a trade delegation from South Africa.”
“I’m intrigued,” Garcia said, suddenly taking more of an interest in Collins’s self appointed mission.
“This is unofficial, Nick. The guy is a diplomat and you know what that means,” Collins cautioned.
“Why are you so interested in this guy? What’s he done to upset her majesty’s government?” he wanted to know.
“Nothing, this is personal,” Collins confessed. After what he’d done to Lee, Rosjohn was going to pay. “The less you know, the better for you,” he concluded, aware of his friends close scrutiny.
“Then I take it you are operating on your own?” Nick speculated.
“Not exactly,” Collins did not want to tell any-one about Morton’s involvement and risk his boss finding out. Not even Lee knew what they were planning.
Nick took a swig of whiskey and smiled. “Okay, I can take a hint. I’ll meet you back here tomorrow, same time.” Finishing the drink, he slid down from the bar stool.
“Thanks,” Collins took a couple of mouthfuls of his own drink as he watched his friend leave. He’d know Nick Garcia nearly as long as he’d know Lee. Their two agencies had worked together to bust a drug cartel that were running drugs out of Cuba, via the states to England. He smiled to himself as he remembered Maria, a very attractive undercover operative who had infiltrated the cartel at great risk to get information about their operation. He made a mental note to ask Nick about her when this was all over.
Chief Sharkey handed Morton the crew manifest. “All the crew are aboard, Sir,” he reported.
“Very well,” Morton took the manifest and read down the list before signing it and handing it back. “Prepare to get underway in 30 minutes.”
Morton unclipped the mike from the side of the plot table. “All hands to duty stations,” he ordered then returned the mike to its clip and moved aft to the radio shack. “Sparks, can you put a call through to Commander Collins at this number,” he asked.
“Aye, Sir,” the radio operator took the sheet of paper.
Morton picked up the headset and waited for Sparks to place the call.
By the time he’d finished the call most of the crew had taken their stations, Kowalski on sonar, Patterson on the fathometer and Riley on hydrophones.
“Mr O’Brien, cast off fore and aft and prepare to get underway,” Morton ordered, walking back to join O’Brien at the chart table.
“Aye, Sir.” O’Brien acknowledged as he turned to the ladder leading to the conning tower.
Again Morton unclipped the mike to call the engine room. “Engine room, stand by to answer bells.”
“Engine room, standing by.” A voice acknowledged from the speaker.
Chip looked up at the speaker, half expecting Lee to call and ask what was going on. As soon as the engines started, Lee would know that they were underway. “Engine room, all ahead slow,” he ordered before walking forward to helm control.
Lee opened his eyes, the lights in sickbay had been dimmed and he had no idea what time of day it was. But something had disturbed him, then it registered, they were moving, he realised. What was going on?
Glancing around sickbay, Lee debated whether he could sneak out without doc seeing him. It seemed like hours since Chip’s last visit, and it was no wonder if he was preparing Seaview to sail. Lee had hoped that doc would let him out of sickbay for some un-revitalized air and daylight, if indeed it was daylight outside. His plans were quickly scuppered by the arrival of Jamieson.
“Good morning, Captain, how are you this morning?” the doctor asked, switching the lights on.
“Doc, what time is it?” Lee asked. Was it really morning? He was beginning to suspect that the good doctor had slipped him something last night. Was he in on this with Chip?
“Oh eight hundred,” Jamieson replied as he approached the bunk. “If you behave I’ll let you have breakfast in the wardroom,” he continued cheerfully.
“Great,” Lee smiled, realising that he was hungry. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d eaten something.
Aware that he had let Jamieson side track him with breakfast, Lee had made a quick stop at his cabin to change into a uniform before heading for the control room. Standing just inside the rear hatch into the control room, he found all the stations manned, and his exec at his rightful place at the chart table. They were still on the surface and Chip’s attention was focused forward to the observation nose, but where was Seaview headed?
None of the crew seemed surprised to see him as he walked passed them towards the chart table. “Chip, where are we going?” Lee asked as he approached the blond.
“Lee! What are you doing here?” Chip asked, turning from the nose. “Don’t sneak up on me like that.”
Lee couldn’t help smiling at Chip’s reaction; he looked ever so slightly guilty, Lee thought. “I was bored, needed a change of scenery – do you mind?” he asked.
“Hell, no – of course not. But should you be out of sickbay?”
“Yes, and you haven’t answered my question,” Lee reminded him.
“What?” Chip’s careful neutral expression was back in place.
“What’s going on? Where are we going? Lee replied, turning his attention to the charts in the hope that they would at least answer some questions.
“Just a short cruise along the coast, a public relations exercise,” Chip informed him casually.
“I see,” Lee nodded. He was sure that Chip was up to something, but decided to let it go for now. “Mind if I sit for a while?”
Chip smiled. “Be my guest”. He indicated the to the observation nose.
Lee’s gaze was fixed on the scenery beyond the observation nose. Now that they were in open water, Chip had taken her down to periscope depth. Seaview was not designed to travel on the surface, although she was a lot more stable than conventional subs.
If this was a public relations exercise, then there would be no urgency for them to reach their destination, where ever that may be. Lee wasn’t sure that he wanted to know, he had a nagging suspicion that Chip was up to something, and it was probably better that he didn’t know. Besides, Chip was acting skipper and it was his decision, as long as it didn’t endanger Seaview or the crew and Lee knew that Chip would never do anything to endanger Seaview.
Turning around to watch Chip who was busy at the chart table, and seemingly unaware of Lee’s scrutiny, Lee smiled to himself. This was going to be an interesting cruise. It would be fun trying to outsmart Chip and figure out what he was up to and why he was being so evasive. Suddenly he felt much better and whatever Chip motives, Lee was happy to be at sea again, even if he wasn’t in command.
Chip had no idea what he was going to do about Lee once they arrived in San Diego harbour. He had hoped that Lee would remain in sickbay. It would have been easy to post a guard outside, and Lee would have been none the wiser. Now things would be more complicated. If Lee thought that he was trying to keep him out of the control room it would be impossible. Lee was stubborn and always met trouble head on. He would have to think of a way to distract him.
With Seaview nearing her destination, Chip took her to the bottom for the night. The harbour pilot would escort them in tomorrow morning and it would not be safe to remain near the surface in such a busy location. They would be risking collision, and Seaview would probably come off worst.
The new watch was arriving and Chip advised O’Brien of their position and status before handing over the watch. Heading aft, he left the control room headed for the wardroom, where he had arranged to meet Lee for dinner.
Lee had already arrived, along with Jamieson. The doctor was keeping an eye on his only patient, Chip surmised.
“Good evening, Mr Morton,” Jamieson greeted as Chip joined them.
“Chip,” Lee smiled. “We’re not moving,” he observed.
“That’s correct, we’re spending the night on the bottom,” Chip told him.
“I see. Is there a problem?” Lee asked.
Chip shook his head. “No, there’s no problem,” he told them. He knew that Lee was fishing for information, and he would find out soon enough. “What’s on the menu?” he asked, changing the subject. A trick that he’d learnt from Lee. Taking the offered menu from the steward who had appeared from the galley, he studied it for a minute.
“The fish is good,” Jamieson offered.
Even mindful of the doctor’s nagging about his poor eating habits, Chip accepted the suggestion. “Fish it is,” he smiled as he handed the menu back to the steward. “Thanks.”
“Thank you, Sir,” the steward took the menu and left.
“Who is on watch?” Lee enquired.
“O’Brien,” Chip answered, “Any objections?”
Lee shook his head. “You’re in command, for now. But it would have been nice to have been told that we were leave port,” he complained.
“Sorry, I thought that you would enjoy a short cruise. Wouldn’t want you to be bored,” Chip smiled.
“Umm, I thought you said this was a public relations exercise? Who ordered this cruise anyway?” Lee replied suspiciously.
Chip shrugged. “I suggested it. Like I said, I thought it might help.”
“Yeah right, and?” Lee prompted.
“And nothing,” Chip said innocently. He knew that he couldn’t fool Lee for long, he knew him too well. He was relieved when the steward arrived with his dinner and dessert for Lee. Perhaps it would distract Lee for a few minutes and let him eat in peace.
Collins studied the photo that Garcia had given him of Rosjohn.
“He’s minister for trade, and as you said, he’s here with a trade delegation. He is staying at the embassy, so it won’t be easy to get to him,” Garcia told him.
“Don’t worry, I’ll work something out,” Collins answered thoughtfully.
“What has he done, anyway? Why can’t the authorities deal with him?” Nick asked.
“The best they can do is to have him expelled as an undesirable. That’s not good enough,” Collins replied. What Rosjohn had done was inhuman, and he wasn’t about to let him get away with it.
Garcia held up his hands in surrender. “Okay, but if you need some help,” he offered, signalling the bartender for another drink.
“Thanks, but its better that you don’t get involved.”
Garcia handed him some keys. “The boat is called The Bay breeze, she moored at the marina and the tanks are full.”
Collins took the keys. “Thanks, I owe you.”
“Just be careful,” Nick cautioned. “I don’t want to be fishing you out of the ocean.”
“Don’t worry, the only body will be Rosjohn,” Collins replied.
“I’ll forget you said that. Another drink?” Nick offered.
“No, thanks – I have arrangements to make. I’ll be in touch,” Collins said, getting to his feet.
Even at night the harbour was beautiful, a silver moon shone down from a star filled sky and the lights from the shore reflected in the water, sparkling in a velvet sea. But Collins did not have time to admire the view as he slipped aboard The Bay Breeze, a 26ft cabin cruiser with a 43hp diesel engine. With the help of Nelson’s secretary, Morton had made sure that the news of Seaview’s visit to San Diego had been well publicised; hopefully, Rosjohn would take the bait. Morton may not plan to kill Rosjohn, but he had plans of his own. The only way Lee would be safe was with Rosjohn dead. He quickly stowed his gear and started the boats powerful engines, he would rendezvous with Seaview and take Rosjohn out when he showed.
He carefully steered the boat out of the harbour before opening her up and headed full speed for San Diego. He had faxed the photo of Rosjohn to Morton, but hoped to get there before him. He should be there by morning, the Bay Breeze was equipped with radar and satellite navigation, so there was no danger in travelling at speed in the dark.
Collins zeroed in on Rosjohn before he had even gone aboard Seaview. Moving through the crowds, he closed in. As they neared the gang plank, he pulled his gun from his shoulder holster and slipped his hand holding the gun into his pocket ready for when Rosjohn boarded Seaview. It would be a quick visit to Seaview’s brig for Rosjohn, and then, when they were in international waters, he would take him off and kill him. He was right on Rosjohn’s heels as they crossed the gang plank. Glancing up to the coning tower, he recognised Boone, Seaview’s M.A.A. Hopefully the man had seen them and would be ready to help if necessary. But he planned to take Rosjohn quietly, without any fuss. The last they needed was a panic and people ending up in the water or worse. “Just keep walking, through the hatch,” he ordered, pushing the muzzle of the gun into the man’s back. “Don’t make a fuss or I will kill you right here,” he threatened.
“Who are you? What are you doing?” Rosjohn demanded.
“Shut up, and keep moving,” he ordered, pushing him towards the sail hatch.
Once inside, he directed Rosjohn down the spiral stairs to the control room. “Don’t try anything. It doesn’t matter to me whether you die now or later.” He warned.
“You can’t do this, I have diplomatic immunity,” Rosjohn protested.
“Makes no difference to me,” he told him. “Oh, and just so that you know why you are going to die, I am a friend of Lee Crane, and you just walked into a trap,” he finished. Giving the man another shove in the direction of the plot table where Morton was standing, gun in hand. “Can I borrow your brig, Commander?” he asked Morton.
“But Crane’s not dead, is he?” Rosjohn asked.
“Boone, escort Mr Rosjohn to the brig, and make sure that he is not comfortable,” Morton ordered, ignoring Rosjohn’s question.
“Aye, Sir,” The M.A.A stepped forward and took Rosjohn’s arm. “Hands behind your back,” he ordered, then handcuffed his prisoner before escorting him out of the control room.
“Mr O’Brien, clear the deck and prepare to get underway,” Morton ordered calmly, then turned to. “We’ll meet you at these co-ordinates.” He said, indicating the position on the charts in front of them.
Collins looked at the chart and nodded. “I’ll be there. I had better get moving.”
“My pleasure,” Chip smiled. “Sparks, inform the harbour master that we are leaving.”
Standing in front of the main view screen Lt. Kevin O’Brien wished that Admiral Nelson had called during someone else’s watch.
“Where is Mr Morton?” Nelson asked.
“He’s...err...he’s not here, Sir,” O’Brien reported, bracing himself for the eruption that was sure to come.
“Well who is in command?”
“Looks like I am, Admiral.”
O’Brien turned, never happier to hear Crane’s voice.
“I’ll take over, O’Brien,” Crane smiled as he stepped passed the young officer to speak to Nelson.
“Yes, Sir,” O’Brien beamed, unable to contain his delight at having his Captain back.
“Lee, what are you doing out of sickbay? Shouldn’t you be resting?” Nelson asked.
“I’m fine, Admiral.
O’Brien wondered what had brought Crane to the control room at that precise moment. The Captain had an un-canny knack of knowing when something was wrong.
“What are your orders, Admiral?”
“Find Chip Morton, and when you do I want him confined to quarters until you get back. He’d better have a damn good reason for being AWOL,” Nelson ordered.
“And Lee, I don’t want any complaints from doc, is that clear?” Nelson warned.
“Yes, Admiral,” Crane smiled, seemingly unfazed by the stern warning. “Seaview out.” Nodding to the operator to turn off the screen, he turned to O’Brien. “Mr O’Brien, perhaps you’d better tell me where we are, and where is Mr Morton?”
“We’re off the coast of San Diego, in international waters. Mr Morton and a civilian took the prisoner aboard a civilian vessel and left for an unknown destination,” O’Brien explained.
“I see. And do you know who this civilian was, or why they had taken someone prisoner?” Crane enquired calmly.
“I believe his name was Commander Collins, Sir. The prisoner was...” O’Brien hesitated. The word had got around about Rosjohn and that he was responsible for the attack on Crane. Even so, O’Brien knew that the Captain would not be happy at Morton’s actions.
“Yes?” Crane said patiently.
“He was some sort of diplomat, Sir. What’s why we had to be in international waters.”
Crane’s expression darkened. “Rosjohn.”
“All right.” Crane took a deep breath. “Do we have any sort of a fix on their position?”
“Yes, Sir, we have been plotting their course, but they are almost out of range.” O’Brien was happy to have some good news to give his Captain.
Crane moved the vertical plot table and studied it for a moment before going to the chart table. “Helm, come to course zero three five.”
“Zero three five, aye.”
Taking the mike from its clip he called the engine room. “Ahead standard.”
As the engine room acknowledged the order, the sub started to move, churning the water at the bow.
“Let’s not lose them,” he said, looking back at O’Brien, still standing beside Sharkey at the vertical plot table.
“Aye, Sir,” O’Brien smiled, relieved that Crane had taken command.
“Chief, I want an inflatable ready with two men.” Crane ordered.
As the Chief hurried aft, Crane turned in the direction of the radio shack. “Sparks, do you have contact with Mr Morton?”
“No, Sir – I’ve been trying to raise them, but they don’t answer.”
“Keep trying,” he ordered before turning back to the charts to plot their new course. It felt good to be back in command, but the pleasant feeling was tainted by his concern for his exec. He hoped that Chip would not do anything that would endanger his future with the institute and Seaview. Why couldn’t Chip have stayed aboard and let James handle Rosjohn? And what he was going to do when they caught up with Chip? At the very least he would have to confine him to his cabin. Damn it, Chip. Lee cursed silently. Why did you have to go and pull a stupid stunt like this? Lee had done some stupid things himself in the past, but Chip was supposed to be the level headed, sensible one. How the hell was he going to square this with Nelson? He sighed, he wasn’t sure that he could cope with losing his exec.
Putting down the pen, he turned from the plot table. “Mr O’Brien, you have the con, I’m going topside.”
“Aye, Sir,” The young officer acknowledged.
Climbing to the sail hadn’t been such a good idea, Lee reflected as he felt a shiver run through him. Although he felt better every day, he was still not back to full fitness. His arm and shoulder still pained him, and he was still feeling the effects of the concussion. Raising a hand to his head, he gently touched the still tender spot on his scalp. The stitches were out now, and he wondered who long it would be until the bouts of vertigo stopped. He hoped it would be soon as it looked as if he was going to be in command until they returned to Santa Barbara. Switching his attention to the task at hand, he scanned the surface for any signs of James’s boat and his missing exec.
There was nothing in sight in any direction. Taking the mike from its clip he called the control room. “O’Brien, are we still tracking them?”
“Very well, prepare to drive.” He ordered, they would make better speed submerged. “And will someone tell me why we are flying the skull and crossbones?” he finished, wondering who’s idea that had been. Getting no response he turned to the hatch and started down the ladder, closing the hatch behind him.
Chip wasn’t really surprise to see Seaview surface a hundred yards off to starboard, and he was pretty sure that the officer who appeared in the sail was Lee Crane.
“Seaview to Morton, come in please, over.” Sparks voice called over the radio.
Chip picked up the mike to answer. “Reading you Seaview.”
“Mr Morton, what the hell do you think you are doing? Get back here, now.” Lee replied.
“Sorry, Skipper. I can’t leave until Commander Collins gets back,” Chip knew from Lee’s tone that he wasn’t happy, and that he was pushing his luck, but even Lee knew the rules of salvage. Any vessel unattended could be claimed as salvage.
“I am sending a boat over with two crewmen. One of them can stay aboard until Commander Collins gets back. You will return to Seaview. Is that clear?”
“Yes, Sir,” Chip watched as the inflatable was launched and headed in his direction. He had no excuses for what he had done. Lee wasn’t just his captain, he was his friend, and he could not stand by and let Rosjohn get away with what he had done to Lee.
Lee climbed down the ladder, dropping the last few rungs, into the control room and waited for Chip to follow. This was one situation he thought he would never have to face and he wasn’t looking forward to it. They had known each other a long time, Chip had been his exec every since he’d first taken command of Seavew, and he could not imagine commanding her without Chip at his side. The blond was more than just his Exec, he was his best friend. He watched as Chip descended the ladder, agonizing over what he had to do.
For a moment Chip’s blue eyes regarded him before he spoke. “Captain.”
Lee sighed. “At ease, Chip.” He was aware that some of the crew had turned from their stations to watch, and he wished that he could have had this happen in private. “I’m sorry, Chip, I am going to have to confine you to your cabin until we return to Santa Barbara.”
“I understand, Lee.”
Lee nodded to the M.A.A. “Escort Mr. Morton to his cabin, and post a guard outside.”
Lee watched the two men leave the control room. He hated to have to do this to Chip. It was going to be a difficult trip back to base for both of them. Lee knew that Chip would go stir crazy confined in his cabin, but Nelson’s orders had been clear. Suddenly he was feeling angry at Nelson for forcing him to do this to Chip, and angry with Chip for putting him in this position. But just as suddenly he felt guilt, Chip had done what he done for him. That was typical of Chip, putting him first, and somehow he had to make things right with Nelson. Turning his attention back to the control room, he looked around for O’Brien; as soon as the crewman was back aboard, they would head back to Santa Barbara.
Time had done nothing to improve Nelson’s mood, especially after he had learnt that Rosjohn was dead. He regarded the young officer standing to attention in front of his desk. “Well, what have you got to say for yourself, Mister?” He asked angrily.
“I did what I felt was right. Maybe it was the wrong choice, but someone had to do something, Sir,” Morton replied stiffly.
“I WAS doing something, Commander! Thought the proper channels,” Nelson raged. “What sort of an example does it set the crew when Seaview’s Executive officer goes AWOL? You could have caused a diplomatic incident that would have seriously damaged the Institute’s reputation, not to mention the re-percussions for our government. DAMN IT, Chip, what the devil were you thinking?” Nelson demanded in exasperation.
“It was personal, Sir.”
Nelson shook his head. It was bad enough that he already had one impulsive commanding officer who was prone to going off on a personal vendetta. Now it seemed that Chip Morton was taking a leaf out of Crane’s book. “I suppose you realise the damage you have done to your career?”
“Yes, Sir. I’m sorry if I caused your or the institute any embarrassment. It was not my intention,” Morton apologised.
Nelson sighed. “I’m sorry to, Mr Morton. You leave me no choice...”
“That won’t be necessary, Admiral,” Chip interrupted, taking his fail-safe key from around his neck and placing it on the desk. “You have my resignation, Sir.”
“No you don’t,” the voice of Lee Crane interrupted, as he entered the office, closely followed by Collins.
“Lee, what are you doing here?” Nelson glared at him, annoyed at the interruption. “And don’t you ever knock?”
Lee walked up to Nelson’s desk. “It looks like I got here just in time.”
Nelson opened his mouth to tell him to stay out of this, and then changed his mind. Losing his temper with Lee would only make matters worse. Lee was stubborn, and this was Chip. Nelson knew that Lee would not give up on his friend without a fight. “Captain Crane, I was just about to discipline Mr Morton, but he has saved me the trouble by resigning.”
Lee picked up the fail-safe key. “I will not stand by and let the best first officer in or out of the navy walk.” Lee handed the key to Morton. “I owe you my life, Chip. Please reconsider.”
“Now just a minute, Lee,” Nelson protested.
Lee turned back to Nelson. “If he goes, I go.”
Nelson looked from Lee to Chip and back to Lee, shocked at Lee’s threat. He didn’t want to chance losing Lee. He was too important to him, not just as Seaview’s captain, but as a friend. “I can’t just ignore what he’s done.”
“It’s okay, Lee. The Admiral is right, I knew what I was doing,” Chip said calmly.
“No, Chip. I cannot accept that. I don’t want to lose you, not like this.”
Nelson frowned. Lee sounded desperate, and that desperation was clear in his eyes as he turned back to him. Nelson didn’t want to push Lee into making a rash decision that they both might regret later. Lee was still recovering both physically and mentally from the attack on him, he didn’t need the added stress of losing his friend.
“As long as I am Captain of Seaview, discipline is my responsibility.” Lee told him.
Nelson was tempted to remind him that he was officially still on sick leave, but he was interrupted by Collins.
“Admiral, if I might say something? Mr. Morton is not responsible for Rosjohn’s abduction or murder. I took him off Seaview and I killed him. Morton merely stayed with the boat while I went ashore with Rosjohn. He didn’t know what I had planned. However, if that is not satisfactory, I can say that he was working for Her Majesty’s government, and give him emergency diplomatic status. Once it has been confirmed we can issue him with a British passport.”
“Admiral?” Lee asked.
Nelson shook his head. “Very clever, Captain.” Resting back in his chair with another heavy sigh, he turned back to Morton. “Mr Morton, you are suspended from duty until Seaview is ready to sail again. If that meets with your approval, Captain?”
“Yes, Admiral. Thank you.” Lee smiled, before turned to Morton. “Come on, Chip, we’re going fishing.” He said, putting a hand on Chip’s shoulder.
“We are? Don’t I get a say in this?” Chip objected.
“No, Chip and you’re driving.” Lee told him.
Nelson watched them go. Once more he had let Lee get his own way. You’re getting soft Harry. He told himself, shaking his head.